The public, with its hunger for revenge, does not want to hear about personal acts of atonement by people who have been sentenced for a crime. Acts of atonement by the condemned are usually viewed as a ploy to save his or her own life – not as a genuine act of redemption. People on death row are deemed the lowest of the low. Many people believe death-row prisoners cannot be “reformed” because they are “unformed” as human beings.
Last June, an inspiring and thought provoking art exhibition took place in London, in the UK. From June 24 to July 6, 2016, approximately 20 inmates from San Quentin’s death row showcased their work alongside mine; I make collages and sculptures from discarded objects I pick up along the banks of the River Thames. The name of the exhibition was ArtReach (reaching out with art), and the aim of it was to enable prisoners to share their work with the outside world.